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Spiritual Exercise – 1 Timothy 4:6-10


Spiritual Exercise

Text: 1st Timothy 4:6-10

To instruct the people in the matters discussed in 1 Timothy 4:1-5 will cause Tim to be a ‘good minister of Jesus Christ.’ It is in this context that Paul issues this third faithful saying. 1 Tim 4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. It is about BODILY EXERCISE AND SPIRITUAL EXERCISE!

1. The Pace of the Spiritual Athlete. v8

Paul draws a great comparison. He tells Timothy that physical athletics is of benefit to the body. But nowhere near as profitable as spiritual athletics! Let us look at these two statements:-

  1. Physical exercise profits a little. We need to take some exercise. But to great an emphasis on bodily exercise can lead us into sin. Christians who become too obsessed with the physical things of life can forget that spiritual exercise is more important! Anything that comes between a believer and the Lord is sin! BUT:-
  2. Spiritual exercise profits much! It is more difficult and more exhausting than physical athletics. Unlike physical exercise which benefits just a small part of our lives, spiritual exercise profits us IN EVERYTHING! So-
    1. The pace is greater because of the GREAT PROMISE involved! having promise Here it is: Jeremiah 30:22 And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God Every other promise in the Bible flows from that great promise!
    2. The pace is greater because spiritual exercise AFFECTS OUR PRESENT LIFE! of the life that now is. We are always in God’s presence! So every part of life will be part of our spiritual discipline. Our work, trade, home, family, school, love, relationships, church…
    3. The pace is greater because we are TRAINING FOR HEAVEN! and of that which is to come The athlete is training for a tournament, but the Christian is training for a day when he will arrive in heaven! Listen to how Paul anticipates that moment in 2 Tim. 4:8

For the Christian, the race is on, and the pace is fast!

2. The Pain of the Spiritual Athlete. V10a

Becoming a follower of Christ makes you a disciple, and discipleship COSTS! As far as discipleship is concerned, NO PAIN — NO GAIN! Jesus likens discipleship to taking up your cross and following Him! So:-

  1. The Christian athlete labours at his training. This is hard work! This is labour! For therefore we … labour The Christian LABOURS AT HIS DISCIPLESHIP. It’s hard work witnessing, and studying the Word, being in the place of But the Christian disciple is a grafter.
  2. The Christian athlete carries Christ’s reproach. and suffer This is part of the pain/cost of discipleship! Taking up our cross! Bearing the shame in the world of believing that only through the Cross can we be saved. Taking a public stand for Christ and Him crucified. Saying with Paul in 2 Tim 1;12,
  3. The Christian athlete has the supreme trainer! Because we trust in the living God Our progress in discipline is related to our trust in God.
  4. The Christian athlete needs nourishment.  The athlete will seek rich nourishment and will be very choosy about their food. So it is with the Christian athlete! See:-
    1. The Christian’s nourishment is DAILY! The Christian athlete will seek daily nourishment! Daily bread! He will get that nourishment by frequently attending worship, prayer meeting, daily personal devotions, daily prayer and opportunity for prayer together with others, family devotions/bible study…
    2. The Christian’s nourishment is PARTICULAR! In fact it is very particular indeed! We are nourished says v6, in faith.   nourished up in the words of faith and in doctrine and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained It is THE faith. The doctrines that will nourish us are the doctrines of the faith. We must exercise ourselves in sound Christian Doctrine.

So, Christian discipleship involves pain and cost! It will mean familiarising yourself with THE TEACHINGS AND DOCTRINES OF THE FAITH, living in the light Christ’s presence, working hard to please Him!

3. The Prize of the Spiritual Athlete. vlOb

The prize of Spiritual Discipline is the furtherance of the message of the Gospel!  

So, these are the things that Timothy is to command and to teach. 1 Tim 4;11 These things command and teach. It has never changed! Today we too must discipline ourselves spiritually, so that others can see Christ in us and come to faith in Him! That self-discipline will be based on sound Christian Doctrine, a proper understanding of and obedience to God’s Word, and a desire to win others for Him!

© Bob McEvoy

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